Russian warships cross Bosphorus

2014-03-04 19:34

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Istanbul - Two Russian warships crossed Turkey's Bosphorus Strait and headed towards the Black Sea en route to Ukraine, which is engaged in a military stand-off with Moscow, media reported on Tuesday.

Turkey's state-run Anatolia Agency reported that the ships, the 150 Saratov and 156 Yamal, were recalled after Russia stepped up efforts to strengthen its military presence in Crimea, Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking autonomous region at the epicentre of the escalating crisis.

Crimea's port of Sevastopol has been the home of the Russian navy's Black Sea fleet for some 250 years and a bastion of pro-Kremlin sentiment since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw it cut off from Moscow.

The Turkish military also said that it scrambled eight F-16 jets on Monday after a Russian spy plane was detected flying parallel to its Black Sea coast.

Crimea has come under near complete control by pro-Russian forces as the region has plunged into turmoil following the ousting last month of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

Turkey, a Nato ally, has repeatedly voiced fears about the fate of the Turkish-speaking Tatar minority in Crimea, which was part of the Ottoman Empire until it was conquered by Russia in the late 18th century.

Read more on:    turkey  |  russia  |  ukraine
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